First of all, my vacation in Texas was great, other than the fact that the temperature hovered around 95 million degrees while I was there. I spent the week shopping, getting spa treatments and spending time with family and friends. It was heavenly but I missed my flock mightily. I called Patrick three or four times a day to check up on them but I didn't have anything to worry about. He did a wonderful job looking after them.
So, the bad news is that Wednesday night we lost Daisy's lamb. She went into labor sometime between Patrick's last "lamb check" and our arrival to move them a couple of hours later. The lamb was chilled when we got there, so we wrapped in her up in our coats and drove home with the heat going full blast.
When a lamb or kid gets chilled it's important to to get their core temperature up as quickly as possible. We held the lamb in a hot water bath, tubed her to get some hot milk into her, and held her under a blow dryer. I even tried the old shepherding trick of putting her in the oven with it set to warm. I was so desperate for a miracle but it was just too late.
Let me tell you, it was a very depressing homecoming. Daisy was upset for about 24 hours, wailing and walking around looking for her lamb. It ripped my heart out. The thing is, Daisy didn't choose to be bred; I made that decision for her. I feel like I put her through a pregnancy and labor for nothing. Worse than nothing, because she was in so much agony when she couldn't find her baby.
I was exhausted, mentally and physically, and didn't get to bed until late on Wednesday. I was in a bad place and I was really regretting agreeing to have a film crew follow me around for a few days starting on Thursday through the weekend.
[I can't reveal too much about what they were shooting, except to say it will be shown on a website and I'll let you know when its up.]
Well, they were just lovely people and showing them around, introducing them the flock and answering a million questions helped to take my mind off losing Daisy's lamb. The producer is a woman my age and when she found out that we had one ewe left to lamb, she said "Oh, wow! I'd really like to shoot the labor." Of course, I was thinking that would never happen, cause what are the chances? But I nodded enthusiastically anyway.
They filmed a lot on Thursday and Friday morning they came with me to do morning chores. When we got to Felix Neck I heard a moaning noise coming from the back of the pasture. I thought one of the sheep had gotten tangled up in the electric fence and was getting shocked, so I ran toward the noise and found all the sheep, goats and dogs crowded around Salina, who was writhing on the ground in labor and making a huge fuss.
Now, in my experience, goats are noisy as all Hell when they give birth, but sheep tend to just get on with it. On the other hand, this was Salina's first lamb so I thought it was possible that she was just confused and scared. When I got her on her feet though I could instantly see what the problem was. The lamb was coming out with his front hooves tucked up under his chin and she couldn't push him out. The more she strained the worse the situation became and she was pushing so hard that part of her uterus was starting to slide out. The lamb's tongue was sticking out on the side and I realized that it was too late to save it, but there wasn't anytime to think about that because I was going to lose the ewe if I didn't get the baby out of her.
I asked Calder, one of the film crew, to hold Salina around her neck and I ran over to the water tank to get my hands wet. It's important to say here that I have never, ever had to assist with labor. I've helped lambs and kids latch on to their mothers dozens of times, but a problem delivery is a whole other thing. But I had read about what to do when a lamb doesn't present properly, so while I was wetting my hands and running back I just kept thinking "You CAN do this. You CAN do this."
I thought I was going to have to put my hands inside the uterus and reposition the lamb to get him out, but Salina was pushing so hard that she was tearing herself to pieces. So I grabbed the lamb's legs and pulled as hard as a could. It took a couple seconds, and more force than I expected, but the lamb slooshed out. And opened his eyes.
[Sorry I don't have better pictures. I'll take some tomorrow when it stops raining.]
Both mother and baby are doing great. I watched them for a long time, watched him stand up for the first time and find his mama's udder all by himself. The whole thing was so emotional that I had tears running down my face while I watched them. Some of you know that I take my responsibility to my flock very seriously. When Daisy's lamb died, I felt terrible because if I had only arrived ten minutes earlier, that lamb might of made it. But with Salina's lamb, if I had gotten there ten minutes later, Salina and her lamb would have died.
I can't be with the flock all the time. It's just not possible. And that means that sometimes things will go wrong and sometimes I'll get lucky. Friday was a lucky day.
But the most amazing part of this whole story is that the film crew got the whole birth on tape. And you're going to get to see it! I'll let you know as soon it's edited and up, but they are still here shooting until tomorrow so I don't think it will be for a couple of weeks.
In other, far less dramatic news, I am dyeing yarn like crazy and trying to get ready for the first farmer's market next Saturday. I probably won't make it off the Island much until the end of summer so ya'll are gonna have to come see me. I'm getting lots of calls and emails about farm visits and I love introducing people to the flock. So get over here!
Tomorrow I'm going to be posting a new giveaway that you won't want to miss. I'm destashing some beautiful Manos Del Uruguay yarns. To get into the giveaway you'll have to post a comment on tomorrow's post. You don't have to be a shareholder to enter so feel free to pass it along to your friends.